A special collection-in-focus exhibition has opened at the National Library of Australia to mark the 70th anniversary year of the arrival of a group of wartime internees who were to become known as the Dunera Boys.

In September 1940, Hired Military Transport Dunera arrived in Sydney having travelled from Britain with over 2500 German, Austrian and Italian internees on board. Conditions on the Dunera were appalling – it was overcrowded and some passengers were mistreated. Many of the internees were of Jewish heritage and had escaped to Britain from Nazi Germany in the 1930s only to be interned as enemy aliens in camps in Britain in mid-1940 and then transferred to camps in rural Australia.

By the time the Dunera left Liverpool, Britain’s internment policy was already under review and new laws were soon in place that would have exempted most of the Dunera Boys from internment. This exhibition tells the story of these men and boys – one of talent, hope and perseverance. It also celebrates the Dunera Boys’ significant contribution to many areas of Australian society.

‘This exhibition is a great opportunity for the National Library to display its growing collection of items relating to this important part of Australia’s history,’ Director-General Jan Fullerton said. ‘We are also delighted that through the staging of this exhibition, we have been in contact with people who have generously added to our collection, through both their memories and their personal collections.’

Most of the items in the exhibition are drawn from the National Library’s growing collection – prints, drawings, manuscripts, newspapers, books and music. Visitors can also hear excerpts from unique oral histories recorded by some of the 850 internees who chose to stay in Australia. Much of this material has never been exhibited before.

What: The Dunera Boys: Seventy Years On
When: Opens 12 February 2010
Where: Visitor Centre, National Library of Australia

High-resolution images are available at http://www.nla.gov.au/media/dunera/

Media Contact:
Sally Hopman, Media Liaison Manager, National Library of Australia
02 6262 1704 or 0401 226 697 or shopman@nla.gov.au